The Spanish city sits on the Mediterranean with the sea steps away from the center and miles of precious coastline to explore on the weekends. It is surrounded by mountains with some of best trails accessible from the local neighborhoods. And it packs serious culture. We’re talking Gaudi’s greats, Picasso’s premium, and a history filled with dramatic romanticism.
The city has an appreciation for artisanal fashion and supports small designers and boutiques where every dress, necklace and bag seems handcrafted just for you. And that’s not even mentioning the nightlife and festivals that bring every genre of music to the city, each in an incredible outdoor or underground space. No matter how many times you go to Barcelona, it feels like its revealing what’s behind its secret doors and small alleyways all over again to you.
Ever since we got conscious about how our daily decisions impact our bodies and minds, we made it a mission to seek out the very best health and healing experiences that a city has to offer — so we can explore the world and feel great doing so. From Berlin to Bordeaux, we’ve learned that a trip doesn’t have to throw you off track into a downward spiral of bad food choices and inactivity — it can actually inspire you and teach you some new habits or ways of thinking to incorporate into your own routine at home.
Follow this weekend itinerary to the hour, or let it inspire you to incorporate some of healing moments into your next visit.
Ease in. Barcelona is a city that begs to be discovered, slowly and sensually, street by street, boutique by boutique. Washing off the stress of the life you left at home, or staid air of the airport terminal, is possible in the summer months with the sea steps away from the city.
But first… food.
Start with lunch at Escriba, a chiringuito (which means small beach bar), that serves the best paella in Barcelona. Skip the fried starters and go straight for the paella — our favorite is the vegetarian or fresh seafood. You’ll sit back, look out over the ocean, and feel the first of Barcelona’s many magic moments.
After lunch, take a walk along the sea before arriving in the former fisherman’s neighborhood of Barceloneta. Skip dessert at Escriba and wait for dairy-free ice cream cone at La Heladería Mexicana, a tiny colorful shop with imaginative flavors, before taking a dip. Our favorite flavor (which we were surprised to discover even existed!) is the passionfruit cayenne.
If you’re arriving between November and March, it’ll likely be too cold for a swim.
After ice cream, head to holistic and natural therapies haven La Turquesa for a transformational massage. We don’t say that lightly. Georgi, the owner of La Turquesa, applies a combination of massage, acupressure and reiki techniques throughout the one hour session, which leaves you feeling not only physically relaxed but spiritually aligned.
While your travel buddy is in session, explore the alleys of Born which are filled with small boutiques featuring handmade jewelry, espadrilles, and chic collections of clothing. It’s hard to name a single street as the go-to and we believe that the city reveals what it is you most desire. Here’s a map of the area to let yourself explore.
Besides being the best shopping neighborhood, Born is also one of the most lively come dark. There are small tapas bars and restaurants offering local organic wines and artisanal beers.
Our absolute favorite is Ale y Hop where you can choose from more than a dozen craft beers and the best veggie burgers in the city, made with vegetables fresh from the garden of the owner’s mother. Another good stop is Bornmouth where you can order a selection of classic tapas—we love their patatas bravas—or any of the restaurants under the Mosquito empire. There’s Mosquito for dumplings, Grasshopper for Ramen and Red Ant for bimibap.
If you’re in the mood for dancing, head to Passeig de Born, which is lined with cocktail bars that encourage dancing. Our favorite is Creps al Born, where talented bartenders stir complex cocktails with fresh ingredients (ask for a virgin!), and Numero Neuve.
Sometimes there’s no better form of healing then swaying your hips on the dance floor.
Today head north, to the picturesque neighborhood of Gracia, filled with boutiques, cafes, students and artists. Wander up Calle de Verdi where you’ll find tiny shops with the most stylish dresses as well as ethically made clothes and makeup, bulk food shops where you can pick a selection of taste fresh nuts and dried fruit, and small plazas where people are enjoying a latte or beer outside.
Start the morning at any one of Gracia’s specialty coffee shops and enjoy the quiet streets before the rest of the city wakes up. Try SlowMov for speciality coffee, Syra Coffee for a matcha latte, or Lukumas for a coffee with a side of donut.
Mandarim Yoga is one of our favorite yoga studios and located in the adorable neighborhood of Gracia. It is a welcoming relaxed space that welcomes visitors and offers a masterful class on the mat. The Saturday morning class is a Hatha Vinyasa that puts equal focus on pose and flow.
Brunch is a recent phenomenon in Barcelona, but we suggest you skip it for a heartier meal. Messi Sin Gluten is a 100% gluten-free Italian restaurant where they serve thin-crusted pizzas, pasta and the largest selection of gluten-free beer we’ve ever seen. Our order always includes at least one vegetable pizza with vegan cheese and pasta with marinated artichokes, asparagus and zucchini but you really can’t made a bad choice.
Next: Hike! Gracia is in the northern part of the city and we recommend you continue heading north to hike to the city’s highest points for a spectacular view. You can walk or hike up to Parque Güel where you can skip the expensive tourist portion and instead explore the many trails surrounding Gaudi’s magnificent work.
Even further up is Bunkers where remains of an old army bunker today serves as a stadium to gaze up all of Barcelona’s streets and sea. Bring a gluten-free beer in your backpack and snack to enjoy on the top. The hike is about 40 minutes from Barcelona and not too steep!
Gracia comes to life between the afternoon and evening. After the hike, you’ll be ready to graze at its many tapas bar while stopping in its many shops and storefronts in between. Two of our favorites are Viblioteca, a small wine bar with an impressive selection of local organic wines and cheeses and La Bicicleta, a local restaurants with small plates and friendly staff. Walking through the neighborhood, you’ll come across dozens to sit for a bite to eat.
Boutique hotels are relatively new to Barcelona, but a favorite is Hotel Brummell. The staff is super friendly and there’s a wonderful rooftop terrace. The hotel was founded by Christian Schallert whose childhood friend Veronica Blume opened a yoga studio next door. That means free yoga with every stay! The Garage is a dreamy studio with morning classes each weekend
Not in the mood to get on the mat? Hotel Brummell is located right next to Montjuic—a massive park and urban oasis that rivals Central Park in surprising visitors with its greenery inside a large city. (If you need a caffeine boost beforehand, ask for the natural, artisan cold brew by Fred with almond milk at Brummell Kitchen.)
Our other favorite boutique hotel is Casa Bonay, which is a multidimensional space with Satan’s Coffee, restaurants, a bar and a co-working space on its bottom floor. They host weekly events from documentary viewings with tacos and beer to live music performances.
Nomad is the coffee roaster in Barcelona offering organic coffee that’s clean, delicious and energizing. They have three locations throughout the city but our favorite is Everyday. Pick up a cold brew and matcha cookie, or any one of their many delicious drinks, before heading out to explore the neighborhood of Raval.
Raval is considered an artists’ area and it is one of the most multicultural parts of the city. It is filled with small boutiques, book stores and museums. Take a walk through the streets and shops, take time to enter the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art (affectionately known as MACBA), or simply sit outside the museum and watch life happen. There are always skaters and students hanging outside. Raval is also next to Barcelona’s famed Boqueria market where you can go to lust upon mountains of fresh fruit and seafood.
Petit Brot is raw vegan restaurant in Raval where owners Ales and Laura serve juices and creative dishes that are as nourishing for your body and soul. They offer delicious takes on burgers, sushi and tabouleh, but our absolute favorite is the Ensalada de Sol: It is not only beautiful, but also happens to contain all our superfood crushes like sprouts, sauerkraut, avocado, and beet hummus. The serene space is the perfect place to reflect on your Barcelona adventures before heading out.
Another delicious option in Raval is A Tu Bola, which serves variations of falafel and the best pita and hummus we’ve ever had, and L’Hortet, a local natural eatery with daily menu.
Barcelona is an evolving city with tons of pop-ups and workshops. Here are some additional spots to check out, if you have the time.
All Those Food market: Sample dozens of street food vendors, taste local wine and artisanal beers, and shop handmade products from local creators.
Espai Egg: Attend workshops on kombucha and fermentation, or go in for a community dinner curated by local chefs.
Wo Kitchen: Let the Mosquito family (best dumplings, bimibap and ramen in Barcelona) how you how to make Vietnamese spring rolls or Thai curries.
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